Madeleine - Humboldt University of Berlin

B. Arts
Semester 1, 2015

Academic experience

I really enjoyed my exchange semester at the Humboldt University of Berlin. 
It was easy to find courses I was both interested in, and which fit in with my arts degree, as there were a large variety of subjects taught in English. Having a particular interest in modern German history, I was well placed to really get the most out of the experience. The Humboldt University of Berlin caters especially well to international students; with an entire program (Berlin Perspectives) devoted to those on exchange. The program is conducted in both English and German, depending on the individual students' needs. Being afforded the opportunity to study in English lessened the culture shock, which I may otherwise have felt if I had been required to study solely in German. However, having a German component gave me a more in-depth knowledge of the language.

Personal experience

I was fortunate to make some lifelong friends throughout my semester abroad, and have brought home many cherished memories. Berlin is an exciting, vibrant city, with a diverse cultural atmosphere, and living in the heart of Europe meant that I was able to visit a host of neighbouring countries during my exchange!


I chose to live off campus whilst in Berlin, mainly because living in a share house (or "WG") is considered the "Berlin way." Whilst living in an apartment had its perks (opportunity for great location & a sense of independence) I think living in the halls of residence would also have its benefits. Being constantly surrounded by other international students would be comforting, as everyone would be in the same situation. Living in the Halls would also be significantly cheaper than living in a share house in the city centre. However, the halls of residence are located around 1 hour away from the university; obviously, this is a big thing to take into consideration! Regardless of whether you choose to live in the Halls or on your own, I can't stress enough how important it is to organise accommodation before you arrive!

Professional development and employability

Standing outside the Reichstag!
Standing outside the Reichstag!

Participating in the exchange program definitely improved my organisation and time management skills. Whilst studying at Humboldt I was forced to develop a high level of independence. Firstly, a university semester typically runs for a full 6 months, and how and when you complete major assessment pieces is left largely up to the individual student. This creates a need for stringent time management skills, which is particularly difficult when you are trying to explore a new city and establish friendships. Secondly, Humboldt also requires students to collate their own semester transcript, as there is no si-net equivalent. I knew undertaking an exchange would teach me independence, however, I feel overcoming these particular challenges really helped me to grow and assert myself confidently.


It's hard to say what my favourite part of the experience was, there were so many rewarding experiences! I'd have to say that being able to immerse myself in the history, which Berlin has to offer, was just incredible! And studying at a prestigious and beautiful University, (where Einstein went!) was definitely a highlight. I feel fortunate that UQ granted me the opportunity to spend six months enriching my studies by experiencing new styles of learning.

Top tips

  • Just do it! 
  • I can guarantee that you will learn so much from your time abroad!
  • The opportunity to live in a foreign country, and the lifelong friendships you will make, are worth any of the struggles you may face!
Madeleine - Humboldt University of Berlin